If last night’s party at Ed Limato’s house—the bash that traditionally commences the Oscar Ronde—was any indication, I am afraid this year will disappoint you in terms of grand acting-out and high drama. My first hint that this was going to be a tame affair was spotting the former mogul renowned by insiders for passing out in the foyer of Ed’s two years ago standing like an Indian cigar statue at the entrance of Ed’s old-style mansion, a picture of health and rectitude. His dramatic collapse two years ago (which I remember most by frantic party planners shooing away onlookers and hiding the unattractive ambulance) sprang that year’s bacchanal into high gear, peaking with the notorious pass Russell Crowe made at the then-unindicted Winona Ryder, prompting a punch, some say, from then-boyfriend Matt Damon. I am sad to report that by midnight, which is when this adult felt compelled to leave, otherwise having to repeat the same two-sentence conversation five more times with the same five hundred people, nothing juicy of the sort occurred. In fact, everyone was horribly well-behaved.
Even Russell Crowe, who must have had several secret-keepers watching his alcohol intake. He sat surrounded by protective father figures—his former directors Ridley Scott and Michael Mann, the only women being their beautiful ladies Summer and Giannini. He was nursing a drink of some sort, barely looking up to catch any random eye contact that might have made the tabloids. As far as post-midnight is concerned, when the late night crowd goes into action and Denzel shows up—who knows. It didn’t seem likely though. It was, given the degree of generalized hostility in the air, quite friendly and low-key, almost an instance of strange post-9/11 survival relief.
People bussed cheeks and claimed to be happy to see one another, as if first emerging from behind bunkers. The dressing was varied—casual chic being interpretive. Ed himself wore a neon blue Versace shirt with black paisley sequins (it was too cold for his usual bare feet), and Gwyneth wore jeans and Luke Wilson. Nick Dunne chatted with Sharon Stone, who was discussing her brain hemorrhage, and Brian Grazer was beaming nervously, kind of running for office, though all the votes are already in. As producer of A Beautiful Mind, it was his night, and his terrific wife Gigi Levangie looked ready for the stratosphere in her D&G black jacket with rhinestone (they couldn’t have been diamonds, could they?) buttons. Tom and Rita Wilson Hanks were surrounded by well-wishers who didn’t get to vote for him this year, and when I pointed the rarity of that out to Tom, he noted that no one voted for him last year either.
As for the New Yorkers, you could tell them from the natives because they were the ones who only know the famous people. Julian Schnabel (again) held court over the hot table of the night: Ridley Scott and Giannini, Michael and Summer Mann, and Russell Crowe, utterly dateless. Jennifer Connelly was whispering in Julian’s ear, no doubt discussing Abstract Expressionism, but those of us who thought there was something cooking between the co-stars of A Beautiful Mind would have been disappointed to see the lady nominee slip away solo, eyeing the dessert table. (It would have endeared her to me permanently had she grabbed the chocolate dessert, as I did, but, alas, nada.) Even Jennifer Lopez sat quietly with her handsome husband. There were no fabulous coifs, hair being stick straight this year, and posing was at a minimum. People mostly sat at their tables of six, eyeing other tables and discussing possible upsets. The “Rougie” contingent was in high gear, though I spotted none of its actors but all its studio heads. The brave straight men who risked their masculinity being impugned by loving the film were appalled that Baz Luhrmann wasn’t nominated and were collectively sure that Nicole will win. I say: art direction.
A lot of rooting for Denzel was discerned, though given that the host is his agent, and his arrival was the most anticipated, perhaps this was no surprise. I am signing off now, as I will otherwise miss my Saturday gymnastics and will not be able to regain my balance. I may file later, if I get my back handspring, with a report from the affirmative-action front.
Exhausted, but with no short term memory loss, your feeble party reporter,